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SACRED JOURNEYS WITH BRUCE FEILER: Osun-Osogbo

A young man performs ritualistic washing at the Sacred Grove during the Osun-Osogbo festival.
Courtesy of Jon Wood/Bosie Vincent
A young man performs ritualistic washing at the Sacred Grove during the Osun-Osogbo festival.

Airs Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Join host Bruce Feiler on an unprecedented journey to the world’s most meaningful landscapes and rigorous religious pilgrimages. Feiler and contemporary sojourners journey to sacred sites cherished by billions and visited annually by hundreds of millions of pilgrims. Each episode follows a modern-day pilgrim on a private spiritual journey. The six-part series, SACRED JOURNEYS WITH BRUCE FEILER, presents a comprehensive picture of the practice of pilgrimage in its varied expressions around the globe, over thousands of years. KPBS will broadcast two consecutive episodes on Tuesdays, December 16, 23 and 30 beginning at 8 p.m. each night: "Lourdes" (Dec. 16), "Shikoku" (Dec. 16), "Jerusalem" (Dec. 23), "The Hajj" (Dec. 23), "Kumbh Mela" (Dec. 30) and "Osun-Osogbo" (Dec. 30).

Osogbo, Nigeria
Courtesy of Jon Wood/Bosie Vincent
Osogbo, Nigeria
Celebrating in the streets of Osogbo during the festival of Osun.
Courtesy of Jon Wood/Bosie Vincent
Celebrating in the streets of Osogbo during the festival of Osun.

What is a Pilgrimage?

Read about the six stages that characterize every pilgrimage.

Meet the Pilgrims

Explore pilgrim profiles featured in the series SACRED JOURNEYS WITH BRUCE FEILER.

"Osun-Osogbo" airs Tuesday, December 30 at 9 p.m. - Host Bruce Feiler travels to Nigeria with a group of African American pilgrims who are attending an annual festival in honor of the Yoruba Goddess Osun as a way to reconnect with their cultural and spiritual roots. This indigenous African faith, sometimes called Orisa Devotion, was first carried to the Americas during the Transatlantic Slave Trade where it evolved and spread to become one of the ten largest religions in the world with upwards of 100 million practitioners.

In its many forms it’s most widely practiced in the Caribbean and Brazil. In the U.S., after being forced underground during slavery, it is now growing in popularity across the country, especially in African American and Afro-Cuban neighborhoods.

In company with pilgrims from Miami, New York and Boston, Bruce Feiler visits the last remaining Yoruba sacred grove in Nigeria, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the Osun Festival attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims and visitors from across Africa and around the world. As two young American pilgrims are initiated as priestesses to the goddess Osun, a Miami-based priest reveals that it’s music and dance that brings most African Americans back to a faith where culture, art and spirituality are inextricably mixed.

In Nigeria this indigenous African religion is under attack from Evangelical Christianity and fundamentalist Islam. But as the Osun Festival reaches its climax, Bruce sees that practitioners from the Yoruba Diaspora are reinvigorating the faith in its homeland while taking home a new sense of identity as African Americans.

As a young priestesses tells Bruce: “There is no power in not knowing who you are, where you come from. Coming here, I’m taking back that power; I’m taking back that identity.”

Bruce Feiler is on Facebook, and you can follow @BruceFeiler on Twitter. Episodes from this series will be available for online viewing through mid-January 2015.

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